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Chinese Antique Furniture

Wood Care for Antique and Reproduction Furniture

Old wood has usually already reached its critical drying point unlike most new wood. Old wood continues to change, but with common sense this should not be a problem. If a repair is necessary at a later date it should involve only minor adjustments.

The joint at a floating panel may widen seasonally as the side board joint seam in a cupboard may shrink in dry weather. Often it will go back during a humid season.

Minor changes in the seam lines of antiques can be expected. As everyone experiences the same changes, they will not affect the value of your piece.

You should not dehumidify old pieces. This is like living constantly in central heating. You know what that does to your hair and skin and an old piece does not have an inner replenishing alternative.

If possible when moving abroad to a dry or centrally heated climate, put a humidifier on your heating system, and follow some simple care rules:

Do not place antiques in direct sun light

Do not expose furniture to rapid temperature changes

Use air conditioning with restraint.

Do not place furniture directly in front of or underneath the vents

Never dehumidify any real wood pieces.

Old pieces will show shrinkage but new pieces may have very dramatic changes.

Polish

Use Lemon Oil (not polish) once a week, especially during times when you have your air conditioning or heating systems on. You can purchase Parker & Bailey Lemon Oil or any other quality Lemon oil. If you are willing to go to further trouble, you can treat the underside and inside of your pieces with 3-parts turpentine and 1- part linseed oil twice a year. This will be an excellent conditioner for your antique.

On natural non-lacquered pieces, a good quality furniture wax will protect the exterior layer and the finish from drying. Wax once every 2-3 months. It will also speed up the development of a patina (that soft lustrous glow old pieces have). We recommend a Mylands or other high quality wax.

If you experience any wood shrinkage in floating panels it is advisable to leave the piece for at least one year to allow it to acclimatize fully before taking any remedial action. Often, the wood will naturally expand back during more humid seasons. If you require restoration at this point, please use a reputable Antique restorer.

Tibetan Antiques

Please note that Tibetan Furniture requires different care to Chinese Furniture.

The front painted area and sides of Tibetan pieces should never be waxed. Wiping them down with a damp, warm cloth is enough.

The tops of pieces however, can be waxed as often as needed (recommended 3-5 times a year).

Precautions

Each piece of our furniture is relentlessly polished to a fine finish. When placing objects - in particular hard edged ones like flower pots or key chains - onto the surface it is advisable to use cork felts or trays as cushions.
Avoid pouring alcohol, turpentine or mineral spirit onto the furniture or else the stain or lacquer might be degraded.
Try your best to prevent a piece of furniture from exposure to direct sunlight, especially in the summer. Use screens or blinds to block or diffuse sunlight, otherwise the piece of furniture might experience uneven color fading, the wood might also have a higher shrinking or cracking potential.
Wood as a plant contains water in its structure, even long after a tree is felled. Throughout our manufacturing process, substantial amount of water would have been eliminated from the wood to make it stable. However, wood still expands or contracts as related to the relative humidity in the air. There is only one exception - wood that is literally blocked with heavy and thick lacquer. The design of Chinese furniture has already catered to this behavior of wood. In particular, a large surface is usually made with floating panel framed by wood members on four sides. The floating panel can expand or contract but still has its surface secure and intact. In an extremely dry environment, the contraction, however, might reveal certain "un-colored" portion of the tongue that is inserted into the wood members. If the furniture is moved to a higher humidity environment, the wood will expand and the "un-colored" portion will be concealed again. This is a normal behavior for Chinese furniture.
Moderate humidity is the best for all solid wood furniture. Extremely humid or dry environment might inflict undesirable swelling or shrinking of a piece. To minimize harm, use humidifier, dehumidifier or air-conditioner to keep the humidity from the two extreme ends. More regular waxing of a piece of furniture can also slow down the rate of water absorption and depletion.


Regular Maintenance

Use clean and dry towel or soft brush to wipe away dirt and dust from the furniture regularly, following the direction of the wood grain. Excessive dirt or grease can be removed by a slightly damp towel, or one having been soaked with mild and neutral detergent.
The soft brush head of a vacuum cleaner is also a handy tool for picking up dust, especially bread crumbs and small particles trapped into the grooves around the floating panels. However, use it with care and avoid poking the head directly onto the piece. Gently lay down the brush then glide it slowly over the surface. You can try practicing the skill in starting with the sides or back of a piece first.
Our finish is generally splash-proof. Water spilled onto the surface won't cause any harm if it is not left for too long.
Wax the furniture regularly, like twice a year, to further add protection to the piece. Use the soft paste furniture beeswax instead of the spray-on furniture polish or wax, as the latter contains too much chemical which forms a cloudy surface and gives off an artificial gloss. Wax more often in an environment with extreme humidity levels, and when a piece of furniture is heavily used.

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